Massachusetts Public College Presidents Pledge Relief From Fee Increases Under Budget Scenario

Tim Goral's picture

Tuition and fees at the University of Massachusetts and other campuses of higher education are set to be frozen for the coming school year under a budget unveiled Wednesday on Beacon Hill.

In separate telephone interviews, leaders of the five-campus UMass system, Westfield State University, Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College all said they will not increase student fees for the academic year that starts in September if legislators give final approval to the overall $33.8 billion fiscal 2014 budget released Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee.

"None of the curriculum fees will be raised," said Robert Caret, president of the University of Massachusetts.

"I'm excited," Caret added. "It provides the kind of support that is needed. It's a reflection of the trust they (legislators) have in us to do what we're doing and to do it well."

The effort to freeze student fees, started in January by Gov. Deval L. Patrick, comes amid a steady drumbeat of bad news about increasing student debt and rising costs of a college education.

In recent years, trustees of most campuses have been hiking fees to fill gaps in their state budgets.

The House Ways and Means budget also includes money to cover raises for faculty, clerical staff and other union employees.

If the university receives another $39 million next year, as legislators have said, it would mean the state is providing 50 percent funding for the university's education programs. Caret has made "50-50 funding" a key goal of the university.

The Ways and Means committee's budget includes $478.7 million for the University of Massachusetts system, up about $39 million from $439.5 million this year.

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